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Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA)


A statutory requirement for Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) and a regulatory information requirement for all other acquisition programs. It is a systematic, metrics-based process that establishes the maturity of critical technologies. The TRA may be conducted concurrently with other technical reviews such as the Alternative Systems Review or System Requirements Review . If a platform or system depends on specific technologies to meet system operational threshold requirements in development, production, or operation, and if the technology or its application is either new or novel, then that technology is considered “critical.” The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) (ASD(R&E)) is required to conduct an independent assessment of the Program Manager's TRA for MDAPs as part of the Development Request for Proposal (RFP) Release Decision Point Review. The TRA at Milestone C is a regulatory requirement when Milestone C is Program Initiation.

General Information

Note: OUSD(R&E) published an updated TRA Deskbook in June 2023. It supersedes the 2009 TRA Deskbook and the 2011 TRA Guidance. This article will be updated to reflect that updated guidebook in the near future. Until then, please access the 2023 TRA Guidebook a the Handbooks and Standards area at the bottom of this article.


TRA Applicability. According to the Adaptive Acquisition Framework Document Identification (AAFDID) Tool for MDAPs, the TRA is a statutory information requirement for Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs) that require a Milestone Decision Authority (MDA) Certification and Determination under 10 U.S.C. 2366b or other provisions of law at Milestone B (MS B), or when otherwise directed by the MDA. For MDAPs, an initial TRA is due at the Development RFP Release Decision, with an update due at Milestone B. If program initiation is at Milestone C, a TRA is required for that event. Per USD(AT&L) memo Improving Technology Readiness Assessment Effectiveness (11 May 2011; see atch), TRAs for the USD(R&E) are not required for Major Automated Information System (MAIS) programs, non-MDAPs, or MDAP Milestone C (MS C) decisions, except for MDAPs entering the acquisition system at MS C (regulatory requirement). TRA format, process, etc. contained in the 2011 DoD TRA Guidance (see atch) replace the former TRA requirements described in the TRA Deskbook of 2009 and prior editions.


Independent of the elimination of the formal requirement to conduct a TRA for a Major Automated Information System (MAIS) and Acquisition Category (ACAT) II-IV programs, all Program Managers (PMs) and their chains of command retain complete responsibility for assessing, managing, and mitigating acquisition program technology risk. MDAs for non-ACAT I programs should consider requiring TRAs for those programs when technological risk is present.


According to Appendix C, Enclosure B, Paragraph 2.5.11, of the "Manual for the Operation of the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS)" (JCIDS Manual), 30 Oct 21, Section 11 of the Capability Development Document (CDD) is called Technology Readiness: The purpose of this section is to highlight known technological challenges which may impact the ability to reach the level of performance identified in the performance attributes (KPPs, KSAs, or APAs), or represent risk to delivering capabilities on schedule and within budget. This information from the Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) may be used to inform lifecycle cost, performance, schedule, and quantity tradeoff discussions during review and validation of the CDD. For the CDD generated prior to the Milestone B acquisition decision, this section identifies technological risk areas that require attention during the EMD phase of acquisition. In cases where the CDD describes multiple increments of a capability solution, this section must describe the critical technologies to be matured for each increment. This may also be addressed in the incremental annex as they are developed for a capability solution. For each Critical Technology Element (CTE) with a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of less than TRL-6, discuss potential workarounds to achieve partial or complete program success in the event that the technology does not mature as anticipated. Additionally, highlight how incremental acquisition strategies and/or MOSA is being used to enable flexibility in critical technology areas. Where known, include decision points and criteria for implementing the potential workaround(s). Sponsors shall address Exportability “Allied/Partner Interoperability and Coalition Use” as per the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy. Sponsors must consider existing export controls, controlled technical information assessments, and the identification of critical program information when addressing exportability. Coordination with the Defense Technology Security Administration and the sponsor’s associated Military Department Counterintelligence Organization can assist for scoping requirements in the Intelligence Supportability Section.


TRA Conduct. The TRA is funded and reported by the Program Manager (PM) who proposes a team of subject matter experts to assist in conducting the TRA in accordance with the DoD TRA Guidance published April 2011 and revised 13 May 2011. Acquisition Category II-IV programs should conduct TRAs in accordance with relevant Component direction by tailoring the DoD TRA Guidance as appropriate.


The TRA final report for MDAPs in support of MS B must be submitted through the Component Acquisition Executive (CAE) to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E)) for review to support the requirement that the USD(R&E) provide an independent assessment to the MDA. The final TRA report for MDAPs should provide substantiating evidence that the critical technologies have been demonstrated in a relevant environment to support the MDA's Certification and Determination under 10 U.S.C. 2366b.